Mobile Network Trends in 2020

No one would argue that 2020 was a year unlike any other. The global pandemic transformed the way we work, learn and interact with one another. The tragic loss of life and global shutdown will stay in our collective memories for a long time. Mobile technologies rose to the occasion. Network coverage, WIFI reliability, and bandwidth, and communication during emergency events had never been more critical.  

While many activities were rescheduled or canceled altogether, mobile telecommunications continued to move forward, particularly in the areas of 5G and MCX.  

5G In the News

According to a recent CNET article, “millions of customers in places like China scooped up new 5G phones. Handset makers held virtual events and introduced a wave of 5G phones, and carriers rolled out their networks. 5G sales in 2020 ended up being nearly as strong as expected before the pandemic even began...”

In addition, the article noted, “This year saw the major US carriers build out their networks. But in 2021, carriers and devices on their network will be able to tap into some tools found in new processors to get even better speeds.”

A recent Forbes “Editors Pick” article, “Marvell Brings Traditional Network Infrastructure Tools To 5G Open RAN” by Bob O’Donnell talks about the role that open Ran might play in 5G technology. The article notes that “the speed, flexibility, and cost benefits are likely to lead to much more rapid adoption of O-RAN…” over time.  

Valid recently published a whitepaper entitled, “Testing the Base Station RAN  for Staging, Deployment and Repair” that discussed in detail the opportunities of a flexible testing solution to streamlining the staging and deployment of a base station RAN, as well as the efficiencies that can be gained in the repair process.

Continued Progress on MCX

An important aspect of 2020 was the continued work by ETSI, 3GPP, and other organizations in the areas of “Mission Critical Push to Talk" (MCPTT), “Mission Critical Data (MCData)” and “Mission Critical Video (MCVideo)”. While virtual, the fifth PlugTests event took place in late September. These ongoing events are important to test the interoperability of technologies for successful operation during emergency events.

In support of this process, Valid8 developed a commercial test tool to conduct compliance testing for P25 Inter subsystem interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI). DHS S&T and Valid8 executed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to enable this test tool to conduct the required P25 CAP ISSI/CSSI Conformance testing as defined in the P25 CAP Compliance Assessment Bulletins (CAB). More details can be found at

Recently, it was announced that “Compliance Testing of Mesa, Arizona, completed the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) National Accreditation Board (ANAB) and DHS Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) assessment process to add Project 25 (P25) Compliance Assessment Program (CAP) Inter-RF Sub-System Interface (ISSI) and Console Sub-System Interface (ISSI) equipment testing to its ISO/IEC 17025:2017 scope of accreditation.”

The ability to perform ISSI/CSSI testing offers scalable interoperability test events. The “Field Test” accreditation scope also allows for testing to be performed just about anywhere, saving manufacturers time and resources.

Valid8 Conformance Tester’s ability to enable these types of tests is an important component of the accreditation process.

Learning from 2020

2020 has been a year of hard learning with new challenges and hurdles to innovation. Mobile technologies now understand how they provide the backbone for the connected world, and create an environment that is both virtual and less isolated.  

For mission critical systems such as ISSI’s, “Some industry experts estimate that 20-25% of ISSIs purchased have never been deployed.” The forward progress made in testing should mean high levels of deployment in 2021.

These technologies must continue to innovate to support the unknowns of the future.

We look forward to an exciting 2021!

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